09/10/2018 14:22 BST

Are You Risking Your Child's Safety (And A Hefty Fine) By Not Using Their Car Seat Properly?

This mistake could cost you as much as £500.

Thousands of parents in the UK are making a common safety mistake with their child’s car seat and breaking the law in the process, a new study suggests.

Children must use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first, according to UK law. They must be properly strapped in to this seat and the penalty for driving a child without having a proper seatbelt or child seat in place is a maximum of £500.

Yet, busy parents are skipping the vital step of strapping their children in. 

Children aged between two and eight are most likely to have been driven unrestrained, according to the research by Co-op Insurance. Parents of children aged five are more likely than any other group to have not belted their children in with just over one fifth (22 per cent) of parents, who admit to doing this, with children of this age.

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In the study of 2,000 parents with children under 12, running late or making shorter journeys was been blamed by over a tenth (13.4 per cent) of parents for not strapping their children into their vehicles properly.  

More parents in London (22 per cent) admit to driving their children without the correct restraints in place than any other region. Meanwhile parents in Scotland are most safety conscious with only six per cent admitting to not strapping their children in when they were running late or making a short journey.

This finding is particularly worrying as 11 per cent of parents say they have had a bump in their car because they have been distracted by the child. Despite this, 94 per cent of parents believe they are safe or very safe when they get behind the wheel with their children in the car.

However, it isn’t only parents who are taking risks with their own children; 13 per cent of parent drivers admit to driving other people’s children without the proper seats or restraints in place. Again, this is more likely to happen in London than any other UK region, with 23 per cent of parents admitting to it there.

Nick Ansley, head of motor insurance at Co-op, said: “Child car seats and seat belts are there to keep people as safe as possible. If the worst was to happen and a vehicle was involved in a collision with children not belted in, then the consequences are likely to be much more serious than if a child was strapped in.

“Whilst there is no doubt that parents are simply trying to buy some time in their already manic schedules by sometimes not belting children in properly on short journeys, we are urging parents to ‘buy back’ some of their time at another point in the day – when the stakes aren’t too high.”